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Exploring Asian Art: Storytelling, Identity, and Spirituality

Credit: Chloe Collyer

Dates: Friday, June 24th to Sunday, June 26th (three-day workshop)

Location: In-person at the Seattle Asian Art Museum 

This workshop was held at the recently renovated Seattle Asian Art Museum where educators found themed galleries that intersperse works from different regions, as well as from ancient to contemporary times. While the South Galleries feature art in spiritual life and the North Galleries showcase art in material life, there are crossovers throughout as a testimony of often layered meanings in works of art.  In the Special Exhibition Galleries, Embodied Change: South Asian Art Across Time contains artwork that explore the human body and its connection to social, political, and normative fictions.

This three-day intensive workshop connected the themes of various galleries to curriculum across subjects, including Social Studies, Visual Art, World History, Language Arts, Asian Studies, and Art History.  It was aimed primarily at teachers of high school and/or teachers of lower grade levels who regularly use and incorporate art, art history, ancient history, religion and/or languages and literature into their classroom teaching. Participants had a chance to engage with resources firsthand, then explore what can be brought back to the classroom.  EARC seminar leader, Melanie King, along with museum educators, Yaoyao Liu and Lauren Kent of the Seattle Art Museum provided frameworks for integrating the collection at the Seattle Asian Art Museum into the teaching practice.

Workshop leaders

Melanie King (she/her) is an art historian and educator who has worked with the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia for over twenty years.  She has experience developing and teaching programs on East Asia from an art historical perspective and leading study tours to Japan and China.  Her current areas of research are focused on decolonizing Asian art history and museum collections, and addressing representation in the arts and education.

Yaoyao Liu (she/her) is the Manager of School & Educator Programs at SAM.  She joined SAM in 2018 as the Museum Educator for the Seattle Asian Art Museum. In that role, she focused on connecting students, educators, and families with SAM’s Asian art collection through programs and resources. She has previously worked in a variety of educational settings, from coaching debate teams in Detroit, MI to leading ELL classes in southern China. Yaoyao earned her BA in English with a minor in Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Michigan and her MA in International Studies from the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.  Outside of SAM, she serves as Volunteer Manager for the Seattle Asian American Film Festival, fostering community involvement with Asian American filmmaking.

Lauren Kent (she/her) is Assistant Manager for School Programs and Partnerships.  Lauren has worked as an art educator in both nonprofit and classroom settings, including three years teaching in a Title 1 middle school.  In addition to her work with youth, she has educated adults, coordinating professional development for Boston Public School educators and leading painting classes for adult learners.  She holds a Bachelors from Brown University in Visual Art and History, a Masters in art education from Tufts University/School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and is a certified visual art teacher. Lauren has worked with elementary school students in Seattle Public Schools classrooms as a Special Education Instructional Assistant. She has also sustained a professional practice as an oil painter for the past fourteen years, creating and selling original and commissioned pieces and showing work in local venues.


Teachers received lunch, free clock hours, resources and access to all exhibits at the newly renovated Seattle Asian Art Museum.

This program was sponsored by the East Asia Resource Center at the University of Washington, and funded by a Freeman Foundation grant in support of the National Consortium for Teaching about Asia (NCTA).